Why is this a "gaffe" or a "mistake"?

Sep 26 2008 Published by under General Politics, Tribe of Science

This is an honest question. The following picture has been all over the Sb'ers' blogs since brought to our attention by one brilliant guy (awaiting permission to link-Update: It was Ed).

Bora titled his post "Oooops!" and called it a gaffe. Ed calls it a "FAIL". Nick thinks it is "a funny". The timesonline even picked up the story. [update: forgot to mention the LOLzies thread over at Grrl's place]
It is a juxtaposition that draws the eye, I'll grant you. Might even result in a double-take. But many bloggers and their commenters seem to think this is a mistake, gaffe or embarrassment of some kind.
Why?

37 responses so far

  • PhysioProf says:

    I don't see why on earth it should be considered anything other than an amusing coincidence.

  • yolio says:

    One problem is that it visually implies that the only significant or relevant difference between them is their color.

  • I don't think it's offensive at all, it's just bloody funny.

  • Could it be that Nature's layout folks are implying that the U.S. electorate choose presidents with no more critical thought than that they would use to choose a doggy?

  • Jordan says:

    One problem is that it visually implies that the only significant or relevant difference between them is their color.
    ... and since this is probably *not* an implication that nature was trying to make, it was probably a mistake/gaffe/etc.

  • confused says:

    What is most perplexing is that DM is actually passing on an opportunity to bash Nature....

  • eddie says:

    It's obviously a gaffe to imply mccain even comes close to equality with obama as a person, a leader or anything else.
    Come on, dm. We expect this false equivalence shit from nesbit and his creo chums.

  • neurolover says:

    'cause they didn't reflect the pictures, so that it looked like a mirror?
    I mostly think it's funny, especially how close the color of the caramel dog is to the caramel McCain.
    But, it is a gaffe for them, because even as a "funny" it was almost certainly not intended.
    (and, is a dog's nose print just as unique as human fingerprints?)

  • Becca says:

    In emphasizing the importance of choosing our next leader to the future of Science and the World, Nature might (possibly) not have wanted to imply that the only difference between the two politicians was their color (and nose print). In a sense, it's a gaffe because it underminds the point- it makes a serious matter silly.
    Alternatively, it's a gaffe because calling potential presidents bitches is just disrespectful, yo.
    Alternatively, it's a gaffe because it is embarassing to those who don't see race by making it too obvious.
    I'm just speculating really. I think it's WIN.

  • swill says:

    If they were trying to really poke fun at two politicians, they should have used two snakes.
    Other than that...it's still fairly humorous.

  • I was highly amused by it.

    Could it be that Nature's layout folks are implying that the U.S. electorate choose presidents with no more critical thought than that they would use to choose a doggy?

    Way less critical thought, probably. Ever work with someone who owns a purebred dog? They know a lot more about their dog and the breeder they bought it from than they ever will about the candidates they'll vote for. Just get 'em started...

  • I'm willing to go on record saying that I'd rather have a puppy for POTUS than McCain/Palin in that job.
    Puppies are very, very smart. And they would charm the pants off of Katie Couric.

  • Aaron Golas says:

    One problem is that it visually implies that the only significant or relevant difference between them is their color.

    I dunno, don'cha think the front cover does that on its own?
    I vote with PP: the appropriate phraseology for this is "amusing coincidence."

  • Coincidence or not, that is very, very amusing.

  • Laelaps says:

    It could be a "mistake" as the dog ad takes away from the seriousness of the cover story. Clearly the Nature editors thought the upcoming election important enough to give it a cover story with the title "Choosing a Future," but directly adjacent there's an image that unintentionally makes the whole spread amusing. Other than that, I just think it's an amusing coincidence.

  • marilove says:

    A gaffe? Sure. Intentional? Seriously doubt it. Funny? Hells to the yes.

  • marilove says:

    And even if it were intentional, I don't see how it could be considered racist. Then it would just be a literal interpretation of candidate to dog, yes?

  • CC says:

    I couldn't wait for people to stop saying "Not so much", and now that that day has arrived, I'm longing for the day when those same people will stop using "fail" as a noun, instead.

  • Julie Stahlhut says:

    Since I tend to concentrate on words at the expense of pictures, it took me almost a minute to figure this out. And the first aspect of the image that registered on me was the angle of the heads (both canine and human) rather than the skin and fur tones.
    It's kind of funny in an "ooooops, didn't see that coming" sort of way -- kind of like the band striking up "The Lady Is A Tramp" while Gerald Ford was dancing with Queen Elizabeth II.

  • I bet Sigma are pretty happy with the amount of coverage their brand is getting...

  • It seems the Republicans have succeeded in changing the meaning of "gaffe" the way they have changed the meaning of "flip flop". "Gaffe" used to mean "mistake". Now it seems to mean "anything with which I object or disagree". It's become as meaningless as "activist judge".

  • Josh Spaulding says:

    Oops, my reaction was irritation that "Nature" has a back-page ad that ambiguously suggests that dog noses are "designed".
    It seems I missed the more visual point!

  • yolio says:

    I'd say this is pretty much dictionary definition gaffe:
    gaffe |gaf|
    noun
    an unintentional act or remark causing embarrassment to its originator; a blunder
    Nature very unintentionally implied an embarassingly racist sentiment. Oops.

  • As a previous graphic artist who used to do magazine design and layout, among other things, it is not entirely beyond the realm of possibility that some grapho said to the others, "Hey! Look at this ad for the back cover! We could mirror it for the Obama/McCain piece!" and that they all sniggered before they went for their glasses of lunch.
    Like I said, I was once one of those guys.

  • windy says:

    Nature very unintentionally implied an embarassingly racist sentiment.

    wtf is "racist" about it?? Can you explain your reasoning here?

  • Mariah says:

    Yeah, I don't get it either. I actually find it rather equalizing.
    Black lab. Yellow lab. Just the surface. Still a lab. Either way ya gotta vacuum.

  • Barn Owl says:

    it is not entirely beyond the realm of possibility that some grapho said to the others, "Hey! Look at this ad for the back cover! We could mirror it for the Obama/McCain piece!" and that they all sniggered before they went for their glasses of lunch.
    I'm not a graphic artist, but this was the first thing that I thought about the juxtaposition. Note that both dogs are wearing red collars, and both candidates are wearing red ties (I'm more visually oriented). Also, (Lab)rador retrievers = good choice for ads about (lab)oratory reagents. And then the folks at _Nature_ realized that many Americans are totally immune to subtle humor, and quick to take offense, and at that point the design giggle might be considered a "gaffe".
    Still a lab. Either way ya gotta vacuum.
    LOL. Ain't that the truth!

  • windy says:

    Black lab. Yellow lab. Just the surface. Still a lab.

    Are those actually labs? All the ones I've seen have been a lot chunkier. (I'm not being nitpicky, just curious šŸ™‚

  • yolio says:

    "wtf is "racist" about it?? Can you explain your reasoning here?"
    I already did, upthread. The visual gag, unintentional though it may be, implies that the only important difference between these guys is their color.
    I am not following what is surely a media stupid-fest over this ad, and I am not up in arms offended or anything. But it seems pretty clear to me why this is being called racist. Reducing complex people and ideas down to their skin color is a racist idea.

  • windy says:

    I already did, upthread. The visual gag, unintentional though it may be, implies that the only important difference between these guys is their color.

    Still not getting it. That would make it politically cynical/unfair, but why is it racist? The ad doesn't even say that color is important, it says that each dog is unique!
    Is it racist to imply that Obama's noseprint is uniquely different from McCain's? šŸ˜‰

  • Mariah says:

    I don't know if they are labs--I don't know dog breeds. That's the only one I could think of where I knew there was a pair like that in the breed standard. The only other one I know is cardigan corgis. Look like they are wearing a little sweater. Would have been a cute pair for Mr. Rogers. In any color combo.

  • Kerry Maxwell says:

    If you take an empty box of Land O Lakes butter and cut out the stick of butter the woman is holding, then fold the lower half of the picture up to fit her knees into the hole you cut, IT LOOKS LIKE BOOBIES! LULZ EPIC FAIL BUTTER DUDES!
    I guess technically the Nature cover is a *gaffe*, if "unintentional hilarity at one's own expense" = gaffe.

  • Kerry, you didn't happen to also be a fan of those Mad Magazine fold-overs as a kid, didja?

  • Dr A says:

    From the American Canine Association: "This is a friendly, good-natured, intelligent dog that is keen to work, is obedient, sociable, affectionate, pliable, sensible, thoughtful, and loyal."
    Let's hope so!!
    One up for the Yellow lab: "Labradors mature quite late bodily and mentally."

  • DrugMonkey says:

    windy @28: Are those actually labs? All the ones I've seen have been a lot chunkier.
    I don't know if those are labs but I do know that the laboratory retriever comes in a show phenotype (wimpy, skinny little things) and the other. I don't know if they call it hunting or working or some such but that's the stockier one.
    funny, i thought someone would get into the coat-color genetics on this breed. how do you get a chocolate lab?

  • windy says:

    funny, i thought someone would get into the coat-color genetics on this breed.

    that's one reason why I got to thinking about it, since a yellow lab would be a Mc1r loss-of-function mutant, but yellow dogs in many other breeds have a different allele.
    The mammal on the far right looks like a SLC24A5 111T homozygote.

  • Crissy says:

    The designer who did the cover almost certainly didn't create the ad on the back cover. He or she may not have even known what the back cover would be when designing the front cover. It is just a coincidence.

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